Cisco sues Huawei over intellectual property

Cisco Systems Inc. today announced that it has filed a lawsuit against Chinese network equipment maker Huawei Technologies and its subsidiaries, claiming unlawful copying of its intellectual property.

Huawei has emerged recently as a significant low-cost competitor to Cisco, and when Cisco CEO John Chambers was asked recently about the possibility of Huawei violating Cisco's intellectual property rights, he expressed confidence that the Chinese government and the World Trade Organization would "do the right thing" to prevent or stop unfair business practices.

Cisco took the offensive today. Its suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, alleges that Huawei unlawfully copied and misappropriated Cisco's IOS software, including source code; copied Cisco documentation and other copyrighted materials; and infringed on numerous Cisco patents.

Cisco is seeking to stop the continued misappropriation of its intellectual property by Huawei and recover damages resulting from that company's "illegal" actions, Cisco said. It also served a cease-and-desist letter to Spot Distribution, a Huawei distributor located in the U.K., for distributing Huawei products that copy Cisco's intellectual property.

"Huawei has unlawfully copied Cisco's intellectual property and refused Cisco's numerous attempts to resolve these issues," said Mark Chandler, vice president and general counsel at Cisco. "As a result, Cisco has no choice but to protect its technology and the interests of its shareholders through legal action."

Huawei did not immediately respond to inquiries seeking comment.

Cisco alleges that Huawei copied portions of the Cisco IOS source code and included the technology in its operating system for its Quidway routers and switches. Huawei's operating system contains a number of text strings, file names and bugs that are identical to those found in Cisco's IOS source code, Cisco said.

Cisco also claims that Huawei copied extensively from Cisco's copyrighted technical documentation and included whole portions of Cisco's text in Huawei's user manuals for Quidway routers and switches.

In addition, Cisco charges that Huawei copied Cisco's command line interface (CLI) and corresponding screen displays. "Extensive" portions of Cisco's CLI and help screens appear verbatim in Huawei's operating system for its Quidway routers and switches, Cisco said.

Finally, Cisco charged that Huawei is infringing on at least five Cisco patents related to proprietary routing protocols and has included these technologies in its Quidway routers and switches.

Cisco is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting Huawei from using, selling, marketing or distributing versions of its Quidway routers and switches that infringe on Cisco's intellectual property. It is also seeking monetary damages from Huawei.

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